Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared his intention to run for re-election in 2024, potentially extending his rule until 2036. Putin, who is currently serving his fourth term, signed a law on Monday that allows him to run for two more six-year terms, resetting the clock on his term limits.
The law was passed by the parliament last week, following a referendum in 2020 that approved a series of constitutional amendments. One of them was to define marriage as a union of a man and a woman, sparking criticism from human rights groups and LGBT activists.
Putin, who turns 69 this year, has dominated Russian politics for 20 years. He first came to power as prime minister in 2008, swapping roles with his then deputy Dmitry Medvedev. He returned to the presidency in 2012 and won two more terms in 2018 and 2020.
Putin’s critics have accused him of authoritarianism and corruption, while his supporters have praised him for restoring stability and national pride after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He has also faced international sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its involvement in conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.
Putin told parliament on Tuesday that he had not ruled out running for president again beyond 2024, but he said that the Constitutional Court would first have to approve such a step. He also stressed the need for stability at a “tumultuous” time, suggesting that Russia is not developed enough yet for a change of president.
However, some analysts believe that Putin is preparing for another term by creating an impression of weakness and openness. They point out that he has appointed several loyalists to key positions in the government and security services, while cracking down on dissenting voices and independent media.
The opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in January and jailed upon his return to Russia five months later, has vowed to continue his anti-corruption campaign despite the risks. Navalny has been banned from running for president due to his criminal convictions.
Navalny’s supporters have staged mass protests across Russia over the past year, demanding Putin’s resignation and new elections. They have also faced violent repression from security forces, who have used tear gas, water cannons, batons and rubber bullets to disperse them.
The next presidential election is scheduled for March 18-19 next year. According to recent polls, about 70% of Russian citizens believe their current leader should seek another term in office. However, many others are dissatisfied with Putin’s rule or indifferent about politics altogether.